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Wales through to knockout phase despite Italy defeat

Wales through to knockout phase despite Italy defeat

FOOTBALL: Wales celebrated reaching the last 16 of Euro 2020 despite losing 1-0 to Italy in Rome yesterday (June 20) as Switzerland were left to wait before finding out if they will join them.

FootballEuros
By AFP

Monday 21 June 2021, 09:06AM


Italy’s Matteo Pessina celebrates his match-winning goal against Wales. Photo: AFP

Italy’s Matteo Pessina celebrates his match-winning goal against Wales. Photo: AFP

Gareth Bale and his Welsh teammates lost 1-0 to an impressive Italy side at the Stadio Olimpico, with Matteo Pessina scoring the only goal.

Wales had Ethan Ampadu sent off and couldn’t get an equaliser but the result was enough for them to qualify in second place in Group A on goal difference ahead of the Swiss, who defeated Turkey 3-1 in Baku.

“We wanted to get a result but main thing is we finished second,” Bale told British broadcaster ITV.

Wales finished with a goal difference advantage of two over Switzerland.

“We’ve got a bit of a break now, so we can patch everyone up and get going again,” Bale added.

Semi-finalists at Euro 2016, Wales will play a last-16 tie in Amsterdam next Saturday against the runners-up in Group B, likely to be Russia, Denmark or Finland.

An impressive Italy are now unbeaten in 30 matches and have won 11 games in a row, all without conceding a goal.

“We don’t feel any pressure, we’re just enjoying playing and representing our nation,” said Italy midfielder Marco Verratti.

Their latest victory came despite coach Roberto Mancini making eight changes, and Italy will face either Ukraine or Austria in London in the last 16.

Switzerland face an agonising wait to see if they will go through as one of the best third-placed teams but they stand a decent chance after Xherdan Shaqiri inspired their victory in Baku.

Haris Seferovic gave Switzerland the lead and Shaqiri added two superb finishes of his own either side of Irfan Can Kahveci’s consolation for Turkey.

Turkey go home without a point to their name, and will go down as one of the big disappointments of this Euro.

The last round of group action continues on Monday when Ukraine and Austria meet in Bucharest in a shoot-out to see who finishes second in Group C behind the Netherlands.

The Dutch, European champions in 1988, have already won the group before hosting already-eliminated North Macedonia in Amsterdam.

Denmark’s Euro ‘starts now’

Later Denmark host Russia in Copenhagen with qualification from Group B at stake, while in Saint Petersburg Finland face a Belgium side whose place in the last 16 is already secure.

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“We’re prepared to run out at the Parken and have a magical night... it’s like our Euro is starting right now,” Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said yesterday.

The Danes have so far lost both games, which were overshadowed by Christian Eriksen’s mid-match collapse against Finland and the subsequent outpouring of emotion as the Inter Milan midfielder slowly recovered from sudden cardiac arrest.

“We’re not done. We had a difficult start and we’re going to start over now. We’re ready to get through the group and play more games,” Hjulmand added.

UEFA probes Budapest incidents

Meanwhile, UEFA said yesterday it was opening an investigation into an allegedly homophobic banner and monkey noises at Hungary’s first two Euro 2020 matches in Budapest.

European football’s governing body said it was investigating “potential discriminatory incidents” in the Puskas Arena during Hungary’s 3-0 defeat to Portugal on Tuesday and the 1-1 draw with France on Saturday.

A UEFA spokesman told AFP the first incident concerned a banner that was the subject of a complaint from the Fare anti-discrimination network.

The second incident refers to monkey cries heard at the France game.

The investigation comes after a UEFA source told AFP it would consider moving the Euro 2020 semi-finals and final to Budapest from London if the British government refuses to grant VIPs exemption from COVID-19 quarantine measures.

Viktor Orban’s right-wing Hungarian government last week passed a law banning the “promotion” of homosexuality to minors.

Officials in Munich said they planned to light the city’s Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for Wednesday’s match between Germany and Hungary to make a statement to Orban’s government.

The mayor of the German city, Dieter Reiter, plans to ask UEFA for permission to light the iconic stadium in rainbow colours to “send a visible sign of solidarity with the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community in Hungary”.

According to AFP subsidiary SID, Munich officials have already been in talks with UEFA.

The Allianz Arena, owned by German champions Bayern Munich, has a translucent covering which allows the stadium to be lit in different colours.

Tensions are high for Wednesday’s crunch Group F match with hosts Germany still needing a win to be sure of reaching the last 16.

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